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News Releases from Region 05

Wolverine World Wide Inc. begins cleanup at the Wolverine Tannery and the House Street Disposal Sites

11/25/2019
Contact Information: 
Adrian Palomeque (palomeque.adrian@epa.gov)
312-353-2035

KENT COUNTY, Mich. (November 25, 2019) ¨CWolverine World Wide Inc.recently began a short-term cleanup at the Wolverineand the House Street Disposal sites in Kent County. TheTannery is located at the northern end of the downtown district of the city of Rockford, and the House Street Disposal Area is on House Street in Plainfield Township.

This short-term cleanup, or time-critical removal action, is the result of a settlement agreement between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Wolverine. This removal action is not a final remedy for the site, but it¡¯s a very important step toward stabilizing the site and addressing the threat it poses to human health and the environment.

EPA will review and approve Wolverine¡¯s removal workplans and oversee the cleanup, which will include:

  • Excavating and disposing of soils contaminated with metals at the Tannery property with concentrations that exceed leaching criteria, and at the House Street Disposal Area excavating and disposing of such soils or managing them on site in accordance with federal or state requirements.
  • Excavating and disposing of contaminated soils (0-3 feet below ground) west of the Tannery and adjacent to the White Pine Trail and the Rogue River where contaminant concentrations exceed residential criteria or where there¡¯s evidence of waste materials.
  • Excavating and disposing of contaminated shallow soils (0-1 foot below ground) on the Tannery property where contaminant concentrations exceed EPA cleanup levels or State of Michigan direct contact criteria.
  • Removing contaminated sediment in areas near the shore of the Rogue River and at access points next to the Tannery property.
  • Maintaining signage and information kiosks along the White Pine Trail and at Rogue River access points.
  • Conducting additional investigations at a property west of the House Street Disposal Area and at an adjacent wetland to determine whether contamination is present in these areas.

Hazardous waste generated from this cleanup will be disposed offsite at a facility authorized to receive the contaminated material.

The Wolverine tannery began as a shoe factory built in 1903. Waterproofing of leather began in the late 1950s, which involved the use of a product which contained high levels of some per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS. In the 1960s, Wolverine disposed of wastes from its leather-tanning operations at the House Street Disposal Area. Wolverine ceased operations at the tannery site around 2009.

In 2012, EPA and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy conducted a preliminary assessment and found hazardous substances at the former tannery. Subsequent sampling found hazardous substances, pollutants and contaminants at the House Street Disposal Area and surrounding residential properties. They include PFAS, heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, and semi-volatile organic compounds.

To learn more about this site, visit: www.epa.gov/mi/wolverine-world-wide-tannery.

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